Learning from books is so 1999. Can app-based learning do any better?
Do you like wasting your time? I don’t. Any time I start something, I find out how to do it efficiently. For me, this means learning new skills using apps and online learning rather than books.
Online and app-based learning focuses on you, the student. This is the exact opposite of traditional learning, which is teacher-driven. There is a physical classroom and students, but the teacher plays the primary role. They give the students educational materials and instructions and answer their questions. They explain things and resolve disputes.
Traditional and online learning are different in many ways. Why do I choose online and app-based over the book route? Read on to find out my four top reasons.
Because we literally and physiologically can read in multiple ways, how we read – and what we absorb from our reading – will be influenced by both the content of our reading and the medium we use.
Maryanne Wolf, “Our ‘Deep Reading’ Brain.”
Reason #1: It’s So Easy a Child Can Do It
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, an educational and trade publisher, tested a digital version of an algebra textbook for a very-well-known company’s iPad. Students who used the digital version scored 20% higher on standardized tests than students who learned with traditional textbooks. This study was done at Amelia Earhart Middle School in California, USA. Check out what the school’s principal said:
Students’ interaction with the device was more personal, you could tell the students were more engaged. Using the iPad was more normal, more understandable for them.
Cole Kells, Earhart Principal
A similar initiative, the HMH Fuse: Algebra I pilot program, has shown that learning apps can help with basic math skills. Check it out for yourself on iTunes.
In other words, kids are kicking butt at app-based learning. Let’s not get left behind just because we don’t get recess anymore.
Reason #2: You Can Learn Whatever, Whenever, Wherever
In the digital world, you can learn anything. You can find tutorials on basic subjects like math fundamentals or multiplication without a calculator. You can also learn more sophisticated, seemingly useless skills like speaking Elvish (some say it works pretty well on Tinder dates) or speed-eating chicken wings. Or you can stick to learning more complex skills like computer programming, which is still considered the most important job skill of the future.
Digital storage can hold thousands of pages’ worth of information on a single device. This eliminates storing books (or worse, carrying them around) and continually visiting the library.
Even though we live in the “Information Age”, some people are still limited by a lack of information; maybe books are too expensive or the library is too far away. With Internet access and a cheap tablet, that’s all in the past. That’s why the digital word may become the primary learning source for many. Plus, apps make it possible to connect with people in other countries, which is a great way to learn.
Reason #3: It’s Cheaper, Faster, and Greener
Compared with printed textbooks, ebooks cost on average 50-60% less, according to the Federal Communications Commission (2012 report).
It’s also a lot more accurate. Digital materials can be updated instantly; traditional books become outdated soon after they are printed. Plus, no tedious waiting for the book to come in the post; it’s on your device within seconds.
Since online learning reduces paper usage, we’re helping to save the environment. App- and online-based learning also gives our wallets a break, according to the purple blurb above. All good things, if you ask me.
Reason #4: I Look Darn Good in This Resume
If you want to show a potential employer that you’re committed to growing your skills and abilities, I have one word (actually, three words) for you: online course certificates. Your resume or profile looks incredibly good when accessorized with the latest badges and certificates of completion.
Interestingly, recruiters and hiring managers don’t see online courses as better or worse than traditional ones. What they notice is the effort: you worked hard to complete this in your time off. What a great, dedicated employee you would be.
What Are Your Reasons to Love App-Based Learning?
Technology-based instruction can reduce the time students take to reach a learning objective by 30-80%, according to US Department of Education and studies by the National Training and Simulation Association.
Learning apps help us acquire information faster. The human brain chooses only some of what it processes for long-term storage. We can “tag” whatever we want our brains to retain by paying close attention to it. Apps help us with this, giving us interactive elements, like quizzes and games, and in-depth elements, like tutorials and podcasts.
Make the learning process interesting in itself. Look around for courses that appeal to your inner geek (or your inner chicken-eating, Elvish-speaking self). Try to connect with other learners who are equally passionate about mastering the subject. Most importantly: Have fun while you learn!
We’re spending so much time touching, pushing, linking, scrolling and jumping through text that when we sit down with a novel, your daily habits of jumping, clicking, linking are just ingrained in you.
Professor Andrew Dillon, University of Texas